Where to Eat It: Marrakesh
Named for the earthenware pot in which it is cooked, tajine is a Berber stew from North Africa that is slowly cooked for hours over hot coals. Beyond that, there can be a lot of variation between one tajine and another, but the basic components are meat (lamb, chicken, or beef), vegetables, and lots of herbs and spices; fruit and nuts are also common ingredients. Typically served with couscous or bread, these irresistible stews are served everywhere in Morocco, from street stalls to the finest restaurants—but a humble dish like this is best eaten in non-gussied-up form in a simple setting.
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1½ tbsp paprika
- 1½ tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 x shoulder of lamb, trimmed and cut into 5cm/2in chunks (about 1.1kg/2½lb meat in total)
- 2 large onions, grated
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp argan oil
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 570ml/1 pint tomato juice
- 2 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 115g/4oz dried apricots, cut in half
- 55g/2oz dates, cut in half
- 55g/2oz sultanas or raisins
- 85g/3oz flaked almonds
- 1 tsp saffron stamens, soaked in cold water
- 600ml/1 pint lamb stock
- 1 tbsp clear honey
- 2 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Place the cayenne, black pepper, paprika, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon into a small bowl and mix to combine. Place the lamb in a large bowl and toss together with half of the spice mix. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas2.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp of argan oil in a large casserole dish. Add the grated onion and the remaining spice mix and cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes so that the onions are soft but not coloured. Add the crushed garlic for the final 3 minutes.
In a separate frying pan, heat the remaining oil and brown the cubes of lamb on all sides then add the browned meat to the casserole dish. De-glaze the frying pan with ¼ pint of tomato juice and add these juices to the pan.
Add the remaining tomato juice, chopped tomatoes, apricots, dates, raisins or sultanas, flaked almonds, saffron, lamb stock and honey to the casserole dish. Bring to the boil, cover with a fitted lid, place in the oven and cook for 2-2½ hours or until the meat is meltingly tender.
Place the lamb in a tagine or large serving dish and sprinkle over the chopped herbs. Serve.
Argan oil is a Moroccan oil from the argan tree. You should be able to find it in specialist food shops.